Significant agreement for over-winter monitoring will benefit hen harriers

The British Association for Shooting and Conservation (BASC) has signed a financial agreement with Natural England to support their winter monitoring scheme of hen harriers.

This funding will support two Natural England field staff to undertake over-winter monitoring activity and land manager engagement following an exceptionally good breeding season.

Winter roost monitoring is part four of a six-part recovery plan to increase the hen harrier population in England. The agreed support of £10,000 from BASC’s legacy fund will go directly towards monitoring hen harrier winter roost sites, predominantly across the north of England.

The partnership will provide direct all-year support and guidance to land managers and increased ecological monitoring activity at key sites and times.

Caroline Bedell, BASC executive director of conservation, said: “The funding is great news for the continued recovery of the hen harrier. This year saw 60 hen harriers successfully fledge in England, the highest number for decades, the majority of which were on moors managed for grouse shooting, something which reflects great credit on the owners and keepers involved.

“With continued partnership a favourable conservation status for hen harriers in England is in sight.

“We acknowledge that illegal persecution and a need for further ecological understanding has historically slowed the hen harrier’s recovery in England, leading to the need for a Hen Harrier Recovery Plan. BASC’s financial support of their pathway to a favourable status makes clear our commitment to the recovery plan and conservation.”  

Rob Cooke, Natural England director, said:“This is another important step for the recovery of hen harriers in England. There is much work to do before the English population reaches favourable conservation status, and winter roost protection is a vital part of that.

“Through working together, Natural England, BASC and others can advance the recovery of this wonderful bird’s population through protecting and learning about the hen harrier’s winter roosts.”